Welcome! It has been a while since I blogged even though I have podcasted consistently. I am sorry if you have missed me on this page.
Last Friday, the 29th of May, 2015, was a national holiday in my country Nigeria, and it was also the day the newly elected democratic government was inaugurated into office. As I sat in front of the television with my husband, we discussed how the events in our nation had culminated in the last elections and the victory of what was at the time of the election, the opposition party in Nigeria.
We talked about expectations met and disappointments experienced and we talked about the need for change, not just from the leaders but from every one of us. We talked about commitment to what we have been given and we talked about accountability.
At some point, the words of the Oath of Office caught my attention and the part I have not been able to stop thinking about is the part that says;
“…I will discharge my duties to the best of my ability, faithfully and in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…”
The words I couldn’t shake off were ‘to the best of my ability.’ Very simple words, yet in my estimation, they are massive words. The more I thought about them, the more I realised that at the root of all that we suffer when it comes to leadership and productivity. As I thought of these words, I wondered what my frame of mind should be if I was the one taking the oath of office and what gives a man the confidence to pledge to deliver to the best of his ability.
Here are a few things that occurred to me in the process of my meditation.
1. To the best of my ability means that I will be willing to stretch myself to the maximum when it comes to the discharge of my functions. What this presupposes is: I do know what my abilities are and I am therefore confident that somehow my abilities will meet the expectation of the leadership position that I am being sworn into.
2. To the best of my ability means that I have counted the cost of stretching the maximum and I am comfortable with the sacrifices I may have to make and that I am willing to pay the price of leadership.
3. To the best of my ability means that I will not expose myself to anything or anyone that may reduce that ability or contaminate the ability that I have pledged to deploy in the discharge of my duties.
4. To the best of my ability means that if for any reason I find that there is a gap between what I have and pledged and what is required of me, I will be willing to take learning and quickly develop to ensure that the gap does not adversely hurt the people I have been called to lead.
5. To the best of my ability also means that just as I am aware of my strengths, I am also conscious of my weaknesses and for that reason, I will determine not to feed my weaknesses and where I need to work to enhance them, I will do my best to do so quickly.
6. To the best of my ability also means that I am willing to be transparent and authentic such that when I need help I will ask for it especially when it will enhance my ability.
7. Finally, to the best of my ability means that in the event that I realise that my ability is unable to produce the required results, I will be courageous enough to step aside so others who are more qualified can step in and bear the burden of ‘to the best of my ability’.
As I thought on these things, I quickly realised that no office or responsibility should be stepped into without taking the time to think through every word that we speak in promise; whether it is an oath of office, an employment letter we sign off on, a marriage certificate we sign off on, a business partnership we agree to, or even a simple promise made to a child or a client.
As we watched the inauguration of the new leadership of our dear nation, I suddenly became very sombre because I did a quick rewind of what our nation had witnessed in the last decade or so and I realised that it is indeed wisdom to take another look at the oath of office before you step up to the plate. Clearly, more than a few of us had no idea what the words of the Oath of Office meant.
The question is: do you know what the words ‘to the best of my ability’ mean in your own case? Yes, you are not a politician but right where you are, do you know what they mean?
And if you are a politician or an elected leader, you definitely want to take another look at the Oath of Office you swore to.
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